WHITLEY Bay manager Ian Chandler agreed that his side produced a less than vintage performance to beat Poole Town 3-1 on Saturday. But they are through to the last 16 of the FA Carlsberg Vase for the third successive season.

Whitley showed understandable signs of rustiness at times against the Wessex League side, but they still demonstrated some of the attacking flair that swept them to Wembley last season.

“That’s another little target ticked off,” said Chandler. “It was one of our aims to reach this stage of the competition, and now we’re aiming to get to at least the semi-finals.

“I thought we were a little bit sloppy at times, and missed some good chances, which isn’t the norm for us.

Maybe the break affected us more than I thought it would.

“Poole didn’t lie down, which we expected. They kept battling away and caused us a couple of problems. But we managed to stay in control of the game.”

The Dorset side came with an adventurous attitude, and played three up front from the kick-off in an attempt to catch Whitley cold.

But Whitley slowly got to grips, and with Chris Moore causing plenty of problems on the right, took the lead on 31 minutes. Phil Bell’s shot was charged down, and Moore’s follow-up was handled by a defender before the keeper saved. Lee Kerr tucked away the penalty.

Whitley could have made the game safe before half-time but lacked the sharpness in front of goal, while Poole missed two good chances at the other end. But they grabbed a vital second on 67 minutes when Damon Robson’s left-foot shot from the edge of the area was deflected past Nic Jones in the Poole goal.

But Poole got back into the game on 75 minutes following a foul by Leon Ryan, and Micky Hubbard scored from the spot.

Whitley sub Callum Anderson was red-carded for a foul, which prompted a melee, but Whitley kept their cool as Poole pushed men forward, and Paul Chow broke away and rounded the keeper in the dying minutes.

The Vase matches involving the other Northern League sides were postponed.

Marske play at Pickering tomorrow, while Norton and Shildon both play on Saturday.

In the skilltrainingltd Northern League, Shildon warmed up for their FA Vase tie by winning 2-1 at Billingham Synthonia.

Synners took the lead when Tommy Marron scored from a corner five minutes before half-time, but he was sent off in the second half and Shildon levelled through Warren Byrne from a Chris Hughes cross, his ninth league goal of the season The Railwaymen got the winner when Danny Richmond set up Steve Johnson to fire home from ten yards.

Horden climbed out of the bottom three, after coming from behind to beat Chesterle- Street 2-1 at the Welfare Ground.

Chester keeper Josh Carmichael saved a penalty from Steve Thomas in the first half, and the visitors took the lead after 52 minutes when Nathan Fisher grabbed his 24th league goal of the season.

But Jonathan Monaghan levelled from a Thomas cross on 75 minutes, and three minutes later Thomas got the winner from a Stuart Brightwell cross.

Esh Winning dropped into the bottom three after losing 3-2 at Billingham Town, who gave youngster John McReady from Darlington his debut.

Town led on 25 minutes when James Crossman scored from the edge of the box, and Steve Flockett made it 2-0 from a McReady pass. Esh pulled one back just on halftime when Chris Smith crossed for Andrew Middlemiss to head in, but Town went 3-1 up with a header by Steve Roberts. Middlemiss scored a late consolation.

Bedlington coach Perry Briggs has quit after six months. Previously manager of Dunston, he says he wants a return to management in his own right.

The draw for the semi-finals of the Durham Challenge Cup is: Shildon v Billingham Synthonia, Crook or Consett v Chester-le-Street or Ryton.

Ties to be played on or before March 6.